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Chaffer Eleven
POETS, COURTESANS, AND MONKS

OANGCHOW, then as now, was a magic city, sometimes called
A A "Paradise on Earth". It was to be almost like a second home to
Su Tungpo, who wrote upon his arrival:

"Come, take from time the leisure's share you will.
Semi-retirement is retirement still
Where better could I settle and find a home
Than such a place with peerless lake and hill?'*

|Jt was like a second home to him not only because of the beauty of its
hills and forests and lake and sea and its busy streets and magnificent
temples, but also because he was very popular with the people and spent
some of his happiest days there. The people had the gaiety of the south,
with its songs and its women, and they loved this young famous poet
just as poet, with all his dash and verve and insouciance. His mind
was inspired by the beauty of the place, and his heart was soothed by
its pliant charm. Hangchow won his heart and he won the hearts of
the people of Hangchow. During his term of office as an assistant
njagistrate he was not able to do much for the people, but for them it
was enough that he was poet; when he was arrested, the common
people of the city set up altars in the streets to pray for his release. After
he left, the soft beauty and warmth of the south continued to haunt
him in his dreams. He knew he would go back. When he went back
eighteen years later as governor of the province, he did so much for the
city that he left a permanent halo around his memory at Hangchow,
and it claimed him as its own. Today, almost a thousand years after
the poet lived and sang there, as you go on the lake or mount the top
of the Kushan Island or the Phoenix Hill or have a sip at one of the
lake-shore restaurants, you hear your host, who is a native of Hangchow,
repeating frequently the name "Su Tungpo—Su Tungpo." If you
point out that the poet came from Szechuen, he will not like it. Why,
le thought Su was born here and never went anywhere else in China
except to the capital!

Su Tungpo and West Lake make a perfect combination in mood,
vagrant charm and love and laughter. The poetry of the region and
the poetry of the poet found in each other a perfect expression. It is not
an easy thing for a town to find its poet, who can discover the living,
changing, complex individuality of tie locality and in a verse of four
lines compress and express the essence, the spirit, and the beauty of the
region. In what is justly considered the best poem on West Lake, Su

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